Anyway - the third leg of our journey was to Glacier National Park. I'd never heard of this park (or any of the small national forests we drove through on this trip...), but from all the pictures we saw in doing some research Maddie and I were very excited about this park.
This was a day-long drive which was very pretty and along the way we stopped for a quick picture in one little town. "Tacky Statue Tour 2015" continued...
When we arrived in Glacier, there were still quite a few fires going on and as it turned out, the town 20 miles away had been evacuated. Being that we never experienced a forest fire of any magnitude, we thought this seemed kind of close. The front desk of where we stayed blew off any concerns we had. They were right - but it was weird to be driving around and look up the hill next to us and see smoke coming from the middle of nowhere.
Anyway - we stayed in a cute little cabin that actually had a separate room for each of us. This was a bit of an indulgence on our part, but was probably a VERY good thing for our sanity at this point. It was about halfway through the trip and we had all been in the same room or same car for a LONG time. And while we were doing well, it was a nice break for everyone to have a little space.
This was our view across the way from our front porch. The only downside of this location was that it was right next to the road and there were a ton of big trucks going back and forth to put out those fires 20 miles away.
That picture was from the first morning we woke up there. The first day we arrived was so hazy that we couldn't even see that mountain. It was amazing how much it cleared up over night. Unfortunately, even with that clearing - there was still a ton of haze in the air as toured the area.
But, tour we did. We jumped in the car and took off. Again - we just employed the "tell us when to stop" rule as we headed toward the "Going to the Sun" road.
Our first stop was this lake. It was quiet and so pretty - and Jake rediscovered his love of skipping rocks.
Look at his form! If only this were an Olympic event!
We all tried joining in, but none of us ever got as good as Jake's throws.
Along the way we saw a little sign that said, "Appalachian Lake" and it required a walk of 2 miles. Figuring that we were all (except Mike...) fairly fast walkers, this wouldn't be more than a 30 minute hike or so, so we pulled over.
We soon learned that this lake was actually at the top of the smallish mountain...2 miles all uphill. Except even the hill was really hilly so it was constantly up/down, up/down. However, unlike the stairs from hell in Yellowstone, this actually had pretty views.
We finally reached the top and were greeted by a wide open space. It would have been the perfect spot for a picnic if we had known this would take an hour to get to...or if we had brought food.
Again - the haze doesn't help the pictures. We also wondered if the lake was low due to the late summer time of year. Still...if you are in the area, we recommend the trail...just bring food and be prepared for an actual hike.
We headed back down and realized that while that had been fun - none of us were interested in stopping for any walk longer than that. We just realized that we are "pull over and stop to wander" tourists, but not necessarily hikers. That was liberating, honestly. It took a lot of the "guide books say we HAVE to stop to see this and this and this." Instead, we were relaxed and stopped when we felt like it - and in the end no one felt that they had missed out on anything.
We finally reached the "Going to the Sun" road which had been closed a good majority of the summer, but had opened very soon before we arrived. It takes about two hours to drive so we knew this would be a day-long event.
As the day went on and we were stopping off and on, it started to get cloudy - very cloudy. I was in charge of driving the first leg. I wanted to reach the end before the rain hit because this road is CRAZY in some spots. I loved driving it, but I honestly would have loved it more if there had been some sun.
It also got more chilly as the day went on. In this second picture Jake was freezing which is weird since the kid is a natural heater.
Not all of the road was this - but a lot of it was. Mike did not appreciate sitting in the passenger seat on this trip. He kept leaning over toward me whenever we had to take a curve like this - as if the rock would only scratch him and not the rest of the car first. I thought he was being a bit dramatic until he started driving back and I was sitting in the passenger seat.
We made our way back to the cabin with few stops since it was pouring rain. The next day it cleared up a great deal and we headed back on the drive to see everything we had missed the first time.
Running rivers, waterfalls, creek beds - these are our downfalls on a trip and we stopped whenever we saw or heard them.
I looked down on the kids from a bridge and thought they were so tiny among the rocks. Later, Maddie showed me she had left a message.
We spent quite a bit of time here wandering around and relaxing.
The colors in this pool were so pretty - and it was all so clear...and cold. It was crazy cold and yet there was a lady that walked down in her swimsuit and took a dip in the water. And by dip - I mean she was swimming for about 15 minutes in it.
Toward the end of the second day we knew we didn't have much time left to see things due to lost daylight - we polled everyone and unanimously decided we wanted to end the two days where we had started.
While the boys skipped rocks, Maddie and I curled up on the blanket and relaxed.
And this is how this part of the vacation ended. It was perfect.